…Authoress, Angela Wren invites yeez aboard for a picturesque wend through the French canals…

…some Guest Blog Posts just have a way of truly ‘transporting’ yeez to another place and another time… here’s a delightful piece from my dear friend, Authoress, Angela Wren, whose own blog kicks off a new series of posts beginning today, May 17th and is all about Robert Louis Stevenson and his travels in France…



A Wooden Train to Paris

I have a dilemma to resolve. I’ve been poring over my maps of France for the past three or four weeks now, trying to decide where next to explore. I could re-travel old routes taken before and relive previous adventures or I could try something completely new. That’s my dilemma.

Robert Louis Stevenson has taken me through the Cévennes on a number of occasions and his first published book, An Inland Voyage, has made me think about taking the rivers and canals in northeast France to follow in his sway. But I have a niggling problem with that idea.


Having read Terry Darlington’s book, Narrow Dog to Carcassonne, I’m very much aware that it is possible to navigate a canal barge from the north coast of France through the inter-connecting system of waterways down to the Mediterranean coast. I also realise, from my own wanderings in France, that the waterways within the country were very important in the past and remain so even now.

If you think about it long enough you will realise that, of the 90 plus départements into which the country is divided, around two thirds of them are named after rivers. Along with these rivers there is a system of canals and locks, some of them pre-dating our own once heavily used canal system. So, as I gaze at my maps, I am drawn to an exploration of the waterway that stretches from the Morvan to the heart of Paris. From as early as the 16th century the Morvan was supplying the ovens of Paris with wood through a linking system of rivers and canals – the Nivernais being part of the route.


A favourite haunt of mine, Clamecy (Nièvre), was a major point on the route.

The town sits on the fast flowing river Yonne and everywhere you look in the old town there are reminders of that ancient trade. In the museum there is a large room dedicated to the Flotteurs – the raftsmen, women and children who worked the river and ‘les trains de bois’. The tools they used are on display along with a detailed explanation of their work and their lives. Old faded photographs show these people at work and at play. The trade continued until 1880 when the last ‘train de bois’ made its way to Paris.

So my journey would have to start in the forests of the Morvan. Here the trees were felled and logged – made into ‘bûches’ just over a meter in length and marked to show ownership. The logs were then floated down the river and along its course were families who waited and tended the cargo, making sure no logs were trapped by pushing them back into the mainstream. I feel sure some must have been missed though!

Once at a navigable point in the river, teams of men spliced the logs together to make rafts about 36 metres in length. These rafts were then sailed along the waterways – the river Yonne, being one – and the canals. As they neared Paris and the river widened, the rafts were connected together making vast floating wooden platforms, 72 metres long. Each raft was managed and driven into the heart of the city by only a couple of men and perhaps one of their sons. Some task, I think.

It would take about 10 to 15 days to reach the city and then the men and boys who had sailed ‘les trains’ would walk the 200K back to Clamecy.

ClamecyThe year’s work done there would be a great celebration when the men returned to their hometown. How I would have liked to have been at that party!

So my dilemma and my niggling little problem. Do I take to the road and the Cévennes or do I sail? And if I sail, which route to choose? The niggle is that I can barely swim to save my life. I achieved my swimming proficiency certificate at the age of seven and I haven’t been to a swimming pool since!   I don’t do beaches either, just in case you were wondering. I suppose it will be terra firma for me then.

And the slight mistranslation? Yes I know, but ‘A Wooden Train to Paris’ sounds so much more romantic and intriguing!

Author Bio

Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an Actor and Director at a local theatre. I’ve been writing, in a serious way, since 2010. My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.

I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work. My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical. I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio. The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.

…m’Lady Angela’s novel, Messandrierre is a cracking read… here’s a wee blurb taster for yeez:


‘Sacrificing his job in investigation following an incident in Paris, Jacques Forêt has only a matter of weeks to solve a series of mysterious disappearances as a Gendarme in the rural French village of Messandrierre.

But, as the number of missing persons rises, his difficult and hectoring boss puts obstacles in his way. Steely and determined, Jacques won’t give up and, when a new Investigating Magistrate is appointed, he becomes the go-to local policeman for all the work on the case.

Will he find the perpetrators before his lover, Beth, becomes a victim?’

Messandrierre – the first in a new crime series featuring investigator, Jacques Forêt.

…thank you, m’Lady, Angela… the rest of yeez Lads and Lassies of Blog Land can catch up with Angela on any of these links:


Amazon UK

Amazon US

Website : www.angelawren.co.uk

Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com

Facebook : Angela Wren

Goodreads : Angela Wren

…see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…Author deadlines?… at my time of life?… are yeez kidding?…


…I am unashamed in admitting I’m a selfish scribbler… oh, sure, I gladly share my blog space and (albeit limited) experience in the arena of self-publishing with whomever wishes to engage with me on that… I’ll ReTweet and share other authors’ efforts and successes on Facebook and the other  SOSYAL NETWURKS where I lurk… I regularly post reviews on the various Great God Amazon pages for books by new quill-scrapers (we all started sum’where, and I remember always with immense gratitude the wonderful generosity of spirit and support afforded me by the amazing global writers’ diaspora along my own authorial path)… but there is one element I guard ferociously—my promise to myself to enjoy my WURK… in essence I write for me… if others derive entertainment or pleasure from the product of my wee grey cells, that’s a welcome bonus… but first and foremost I create stuff that I like to read myself… so many times I read efforts from our fellow ladies and gentlemen of the alphabetical persuasion, and I cringe to note the obsequious pandering to a ‘target market’ or a ‘pitch-to-them-what-sells-readership’… and believe me, Lads and Lassies of Blog Land, some of the biggest names in our industry indulge that game… and I shun it… and I mentally paraphrase, ‘what shall it profit an author if he succumbs to a publisher’s whims to serve the need for sales, if he loses his own creative writing soul?’… or sum’thing like that… in like manner, from the outset of this marvellous self-publishing journey, I committed not to be ruled by the stupidity of deadlines… the daft notion that the WURLD will dance to a timetable and schedule demanded by a sales partner at a major publishing firm…


…for this ol’ Scots Jurassic writer, I revel in the languished time of crafting my books as I please… and if that means one or twenty more titles before the candle in the garret extinguishes, so be it… Author deadlines?… at my time of life?… are yeez kidding?… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…Authors, the longest days…waiting for your editor’s feedback… Susan Toy tells it…

…an Idiot Author’s Guide to waiting for Editorial comment… from my terrific pal, Authoress, Susan Toy


10 Ways I pass the time while waiting for my editor to finish editing my novel …

by Susan M. Toy

 It took about 12 years to complete a final draft of my second novel, a draft I felt was finally ready to send to my most trusted first reader—my editor.

 You’d think after all the time the file has sat in four computers and various memory sticks during all those years, sometimes never seeing the light of day, I’d have embraced patience and would now be willing to allow for whatever further time was necessary to complete the editing process. After all, I know that it does take a great deal of time and concentration to complete the stellar and most thorough job my editor is currently doing.

 But, Hey! I’m an author! I constantly seek immediate gratification that any reader can supply my ego when they read whatever it is I’ve written, furthermore proclaiming it to be brilliant! This is especially true when my editor reads my writing. And no pressure meant here for you, Rachel Small … If you don’t enjoy it, I promise not to slit my wrists. J

 As I say, I’m an author and, just like most other authors, I write for readers who I hope will love my stories. Or, at least, enjoy them.

 I’ve learned over the years to not release my writing into the wild until it’s good and ready. I’m not in a rush to publish anything. But that doesn’t mean I’m not anxious to hear back from my first and most-important reader!

 So to while away the time as I tap-tap-tap wait for the edit to be completed, I’ve discovered many ways, 10 actually, in which I can waste be productive and take my mind off that precious manuscript. I offer them here now as possibilities, in case you find yourself in this same situation of playing the Waiting Game … (Oh, by the way, you are getting a professional edit done on your own manuscript, right? Okay, just checking.)

 1) Gardening

I mowed my lawn at the trailer. Not a big deal for most people, but I’m not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination, and I live next to a bunch of over-achieving weekend lawn mowers who always make my lawn look like an abandoned corner lot, the only things missing being a couple of wrecked cars and a broken window on the trailer replaced by a piece of cardboard. Plus gardening is akin to housecleaning—I only do it when absolutely necessary. Another Page – Lawn mowers and Jimmy Stewart


 Photo 1

2) Organizing

I’ve begun filing and resorting everything stored on memory sticks—Do you have any idea how much “stuff” I’ve downloaded and kept over the years?? Again, filing is not my strong suit and is generally right up there along with gardening and housecleaning as activities I’d rather not be doing at any time. Still, good busywork while I’m waiting.

 3) Cooking

I’ve been reading through recipes that were clipped from magazines, downloaded, or are in the few cookbooks I have here at the trailer, looking for those perfect meals to experiment with and cook for myself. (Trying to eat healthy and refrain from binging on popcorn and ice cream, which I would normally turn to for comfort while waiting.)

 4) Sorting

While filing (see #2) I’ve earmarked certain story files and sorted them into “complete and final” or “needs editing” and am amazed to discover just how much I’ve actually written over the years. Some of it may even be good. (Although that second category is proving to be a much bigger file than the first.)

 5) Editing

I’ve re-edited two of the short stories I’d written earlier and am now casting around for homes for both. I’ve discovered a contest that accepts published work so I’ll be entering one of my earlier stories in that. As well, I’ve begun working on an edit Rachel completed for me some time ago on a novella, but I had to set it aside to finish that second novel. I’ll need to decide whether this novella will become my next IslandShorts publication. 

Photo 2 

6) Thinking

Since I’m trying very hard not to think at all of possible changes to the novel Rachel is currently editing (although there have been a couple that came to mind and she has now incorporated them into her copy), I’m considering instead how I might change the stories and characters in the two novels that follow this one in the Bequia Perspectives series. (Yes, they were both largely written many years ago and have been languishing on computers and memory sticks almost as long as this current novel.)

 7) Publishing Other Authors

For some time now I’ve been working with other authors who I will publish under my IslandShorts and IslandCatEditions imprints. So there’s been a lot of initial editing to do for them in preparation for a professional edit, and organizing formatting, designing, ePublishing and listing for sale, as well as promoting have been going on in and around my computer these past couple of months.

 8) Promoting

Even though the edit is not yet finished on my own novel, it’s not too early to begin promotion. I started that as soon as I sent the MS to Rachel (with a guest post on Kristina Stanley’s Mystery Mondays and the post, A small request of all my readers, on my own blog …) But I’ve also been thinking ahead by asking two friends who well know the setting of Bequia to beta read for me. (Dennis has read the MS, but he doesn’t count, except as a ballistics and demolition expert … although he did declare it to be totally brilliant. That man knows which side his bread is buttered on!) As well, I’m compiling a list of readers who may offer to write blurbs for the book for future promotion. I’m organizing writing other Guest Posts (see #10) and announcements on my own blog leading up to publication. I’m redesigning my website (Thanks, Kevin Brennan!) and reorganizing my blogs.

 I’ve discovered a couple of writing contests to enter. While I had stopped entering my writing into anything a long time ago, I figured that, in this case, nothing ventured. It’s all part of promoting myself and, if I win either of these then that will be icing on my cake!

 And I’m forever thinking, thinking, thinking of new methods to develop for promoting not only me and my writing but also promotion to benefit all my author friends and their writing.

Plus I continue promoting other authors through my Reading Recommendations blog.

9) Reading

Kind of self-explanatory, huh? But I’m still shocked by the number of writers who don’t read books regularly, let alone while they’re writing or waiting for their editor to finish an edit. This is a great time to remove yourself from the worries of your manuscript and just lose your mind in a good book. (While I read I also listen to great music. That’s a given for me.)

 Photo 3

10) Writing Guest Blogs

This partly goes along with #8 in that I write guest posts to help promote my own writing. But it’s also a way to keep writing and encourage those creative juices to continue flowing … as well as being a constructive means of killing time while I wait for my editor to finish her edit. Plus I’m creating content for my host blogger to post. Everybody wins!

 In fact, this Guest Blog Post I’ve written for Seumas came about as a result of #1. Yes, I composed most of this post in my head while I mowed the lawn. You just never can tell where any of this seemingly non-related busy-work activity is going to lead while you’re waiting for something to happen …

 ** I’m very pleased to report I have received a preliminary email from Rachel and she said, “Just wanted to touch base to say I’m eagerly devouring your story, and immensely enjoying the editing process.” This news certainly helps make the remaining time I have left to wait that much easier to bear!

 Here’s a lovely musical interlude that goes along with our theme today of waiting …


 Susan M. Toy is the author of Island in the Clouds, the first novel in the Bequia Perspectives series, and That Last Summer, a novella. If all goes as planned, she hopes to be announcing the ePublication of One Woman’s Island before Sept. She’s currently cooling her heels at a trailer park in southwestern Ontario, close to the eastern shore of Lake Huron. About Susan M. Toy

Photo 4…links to the LUVLY Susan are easily clicked:

My main blog:
Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing, And, for good measure, a bit of Cooking and Eating
A blog dedicated to promoting other authors and their books:
Reading Recommendations 
And a blog offering honest reviews of those authors’ books:
…thanks for these great time-filler, nail-gnawing, desisting-from-sticking-needles-in-voodoo-doll-images-of-yer-editor-while -yeez-wait-for-feedback tips, m’Lady, Susan…
…see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…a piece to give yeez pause to think from my friend, Authoress Dori Ann Dupre…

…I’m happy today to give my Blog over to the wonderful Authoress, Dori Ann Dupre, with a powerful message, which is relevant not only to her family and mine, but to those of many thousands of we Lads and Lassies of Blog Land:


APR 15th 2016

Scout’s Honor Launch– Yes, it actually happened.

This blog post on Finding Dori was written on April 15th, 2016.

Yesterday was my first book’s launch day. I only get one of those. Kind of like a first Steelers game at Heinz Field. I only get one of those. So if the memory isn’t a good one – or one you’d prefer to forget -then you’re kind of screwed.

Back in June 2015, when I signed with Pen Name Publishing, the date of April 14th, 2016 seemed so far out there. And then slowly, week by week, edit by edit, building block by block, this new author experience and first book process came into a full blown photo. April 14th looked nice – a Spring day in North Carolina, a top-of-the-mountain feeling, a Rocky-at-the-Philadelphia-Art-Museum moment just a little while away….

But no. That was not my launch day.

My first book’s launch day was spent on the 3rd floor at UNC Lineberger Cancer Hospital, the chemotherapy infusion center, just like every two Thursdays for the past month and a half, with my husband who is receiving treatment for Stage 4 colon cancer. If someone told me that would be my launch day back in June, I’d slap a face (or “cut a bitch” to quote my friend). Cancer isn’t our family’s “thing.”

Well, now it is.

Basically, the Thursdays we spend there are long. My husband has to receive the chemo treatment which is the longest one, of course. We sit in our spot, he tries to get comfortable in the most uncomfortable place possible, the young UNC student volunteer comes by with his cart of coffee, Lorna Doone cookies and a smile, trying to make you feel like the worst situation in your life – ever – ever ever ever – might be momentarily lessened with his kindness – and really, it’s not, but one thing I’ve learned throughout this is that when you have cancer or when your loved one has cancer, people at the cancer hospital are the nicest people on the planet. It’s too bad they can’t all be cloned and brought outside of the hospital experience and into the “real world” – whatever that even is anymore.

There has been nothing but horrible news, results, and overall moments throughout this entire situation. We keep waiting for someone to come out of a room and at last announce, “Hey! We got good news!” or “We got news that doesn’t suck for once!” or “We got this under control!” or “Hey! Someone just found a cure!” Because really, that is all that will save him: a miracle. I know people believe in the “power of prayer,” and if God comes through for my husband, maybe my highly cynical Christian ass will have a turnaround. Because God knows I’ve prayed – and I’m not much of a pray-er anymore. God knows lots of people have been praying, people who fervently adhere to their faith. Would be nice if my husband was the tangible recipient of these kind folks’ diligent efforts on their knees. Would be great if he received the touch of God’s grace. I know I’ve bargained for it.

We met with a wonderful lady at UNC Lineberger, who coordinates events that raise funds for the hospital. She came by our little encampment and we discussed how we can best use my book to raise funds for Gastrointestinal Oncology research at UNC. She is going to set me up a “landing page” where people can donate funds to this cause, buy my book – where a portion of the proceeds will go toward this directly, and also where we can tell our story.


Scout’s Honor – which has absolutely nothing to do with cancer – is really the only thing that I have to give to try to help my husband and others in his situation or others who will be in his situation someday in the future. The hospital will be putting together a landing page for donations and my book and our story for me to share on my website and everywhere else I can share. If you donate or buy my book, please know that all the funds donated go directly toward the cause. So many charities use a lot of funds for their administration. This donation goes to the actual research. This is how progress is made – it is tangible, it is prolonging and saving lives, and I hope that something will be discovered in time to save my husband’s life.

Thanks for your support.


UPDATE: The UNC Lineberger Cancer Hospital has set up the 2016 Scout’s Honor page. If you would like to donate to Colon Cancer Research at this world class hospital, which is much needed, please go to 2016 Scout’s Honor’s Fundraising Page. ANY and ALL funds donated to this cause go DIRECTLY to research – and not administration, balloons, tee shirts and awards. Research. Period. Let’s get this cancer on the national radar for a change. THIRD cancer…and SECOND cancer killer…and no one is talking about it! You are NEVER too young to get this devastating disease.

…many thanks, m’Lady, Dori… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…an excellent purveyor of the written word in poetry and in prose… Rohini Sunderam…


…I wanna introduce yeez to a dear friend, Rohini Sunderam, one of the mainsprings of the Bahrain Writers Circle… diminutive in physical presence, p’raps, but a titan-ess in every other respect… her poetry, her prose, and her indefatigable ‘can do’ spirit in all things pertaining to this island’s scribblers’ group… m’Lady Rohini administrates not only the prose group, but also the Poetry Circle, and is a keystone in its annual Colours of Life Poetry Festival… her pawky, tongue-in-cheek anthology, CORPOETRY is a clever collection of gentle jibes at office life, politics, humour, conspiracies… go treat yerselves and grab a copy:


…not content with tripping out rhyming gems, the lure of prose is not far behind… Rohini offered me a piece of her writing, with the throwaway line, ‘p’raps yer Blog followers might like a wee shuftie at that’… or a more Anglicised version of that sentence… here it is… enjoy…



Rohini Sunderam

An excerpt

Ameeta awakes. It’s not the call to Morning Prayer that has woken her, nor her alarm. It is the shifting of the light, a change in the temperature that tells her it’s time to head out to her first job of the day as a housemaid in Hoora, Bahrain. She stretches. There is a reluctance in her muscles that refuses to wake up and then there is the nagging need to use the toilet and have a shower before her roommates Shanta and Anita wake up to start their usual squabble over the bathroom.

She rolls over once more, luxuriating in the warmth of her blanket, then with a forceful movement she is up. She hurries on tiptoe, her thin towel in her hand, to the bathroom that she shares in this one-room place with her two young friends. They’re all from Sri Lanka and they’re all freelance housemaids; Ameeta is the eldest. She’s been in Bahrain for twenty-two years; and every year for the last five years she’s wondered whether she should make this her last year and finally go home to the rest she so richly deserves. But there’s always that one more request from her family – her children: a computer please, Ma; some more stock, her husband demanded – the drunken sot who’s done nothing more than lurch his way to the so-called shop he had set up the year Ameeta first came to Bahrain, all those years ago in 1985. Today, in 2007 that day seemed like a lifetime away for her. It was a lifetime away.

How young she had been, how pretty and yet how desperate and afraid. Her second child, a son, was barely six months old when her husband, Ramu, lost his job at the factory near the outskirts of Colombo. Five days he’d gone to the day-labour pick up stop and five days he’d come back, his silent, saddened, dark face mute as he shook his head indicating that once again he had in his hands a pittance, the money was barely enough to buy milk and rice for the family.

Suneeta, her daughter, had just turned two years old and her hair had begun to look matted like a beggar’s child. That’s when Ameeta had known that she’d have to go out to work and do whatever she could to earn a few rupees to supplement the family income or else her children would, sure as the dust on her husband’s face, end up as beggars. Her heart broke at the thought. A sharp vision of them as they rushed from car to car, or clambered aboard buses headed for the capital trying to coax a few cents out of people already so careworn that even if they did throw a couple of cents at the children it would be with such pity and disgust that they would never be able to climb out of that degradation of spirit. The thought that her children might face that just for their very existence burst the dams behind her eyes. She let herself go, threw her hands up to her cheeks with a lost desperation that sprang from being utterly at the end of her hope, and wept.

The next morning, she blinked back her tears and silently cursed the fact that she hadn’t completed more than class nine at the government school. She wrapped her son in her cotton sari and with him still silent and clinging to her breast, she took a few cents that she’d saved from Ramu’s housekeeping money and hidden from his prying eyes under her mattress. She fortified herself with a strong cup of coffee and a good spoon of sugar before she headed out to the nearby bus stop to go to Colombo to get a job as a housemaid in the city.

“My sister will help me,” she said to herself, “she will, she’s been telling me this for the last three years, ever since I married Ramu and moved close to Colombo. The money for a housemaid is good maybe Rs.200, even.” And with this mantra reverberating in her head and heart she sat, wordless and grim, throughout the one-hour bus ride to Colombo. She looked out of the window and watched as the lush green trees and paddy fields disappeared the closer they got to the city.

That was the last time Ameeta remembered being hopeful. Her sister in the city wasn’t able to help her, instead she’d put her on to an agent to get a job in the Middle East. “You will make more money there,” the agent told her, “so much that in no time you will build your own house.”

What he hadn’t mentioned was that by the time she’d paid off the loan for the agent’s fees in Colombo, and paid the Bahrain-based agent – another three hundred dinars, and the airline ticket, the passport, it would be many years before she started to actually make any money. Today, almost twenty-two years to the day, she was almost there. The money for the land had been collecting slowly and surely in her bank in Colombo. Her children, now twenty and twenty two, had found a piece of land a little further out from Colombo than where she’d started this journey. A few months more and she’d be able to get her hands on that paper. The land had mango, coconut and papaya trees. The sea wasn’t far from it. There was even a small hut on the land. Two, at the most three more years of working and she’d be able to build a house there. At last that dream was coming true.

With this thought and a new sensation of the hope that had come to Ameeta twenty-two years later, she rushed to the bathroom and smiled quietly to herself. For the first time in all these years this was the closest she’d come to being happy.


…thanks for this, m’Lady, Rohini… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!




Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…Frankly speaking, he’s a great crime writer… my pal Frank Muir’s new novel, BLOOD TORMENT…


…every now and then along comes a series that just won’t leave yer head alone… Frank Muir’s St. Andrews based detective, DCI Andy Gilchrist is back in the maestro’s sixth in the series, BLOOD TORMENT, and it’s a terrific read…



…here’s a pointer or two from snippets from elsewhere that requires no additional commentary from me… go grab a copy…





Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

… a wee recap Post… for, well, no particular reason at all… enjoy…

…I was reading on her blog some of the back-posts from Author pal, Alison Jack, and behold and lo, there was a wee piece I Guest-Posted to her terrific page in December 2013… being the …

Source: … a wee recap Post… for, well, no particular reason at all… enjoy…


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Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff